Golfer Phil Mickelson’s Wife, Now Mother, Suffering from Breast Cancer

Pro Golfer Phil Mickelson withdrew from the PGA tour in May when his wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent breast cancer surgery last week at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Now, we’ve learned that his mother, Mary Mickelson, has also been diagnosed with breast cancer and will undergo her breast cancer surgery at the same hospital on Friday.

Breast cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk tothe nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare. It is estimated that there will be over 192,000 new cases, and over 40,000 deaths from breast cancer this year (2009).

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Anatomy of the breast and the lymphatics of the breast
Warning signs of Breast Cancer include:

  • A change in how the breast or nipple feels
    • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
    • Nipple tenderness
  • A change in how the breast or nipple looks
    • A change in the size or shape of the breast
    • A nipple turned inward into the breast
    • The skin of the breast, areola, or nipple may be scaly, red, or swollen. It may have ridges or pitting so that it looks like the skin of an orange.
  • Nipple discharge (fluid or blood from the nipple)

The current recommendations for breast cancer screening are:

  • Women over 40 years old should have an annual mammogram along with a clinical breast examination (CBE) by a professional
  • Women from 20-39 years old should have a CBE every 3 years
  • Women over 20 should be taught breast self examination (BSE) , and report any changes to their healthcare provider promptly.
  • Women at higher risk (those with a family history of breast cancer, those with a previously diagnosed atypical hyperplasia- a form of benign breast disease, and those with lobular carcinoma in situ (cancer confined to the milk duct or lobule) may benefit from earlier initiation of early detection testing and/or the additional of breast ultrasound or MRI.

Research has shown that BSE plays a small role in detecting breast cancer compared with self awareness. However, doing BSE is one way for women to know how their breasts normally feel and to notice any changes.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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